Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2: Contents of Gita Summarized: verse 70
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
āpūryamāṇam — always being filled; acala–pratiṣṭham — steadily situated; samudram — the ocean; āpaḥ — waters; praviśanti — enter; yadvat — as; tadvat — so; kāmāḥ — desires; yam — unto whom; praviśanti — enter; sarve — all; saḥ — that person; śāntim — peace; āpnoti — achieves; na — not; kāma–kāmī — one who desires to fulfill desires.
Translation: A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.
In this verse Krishna compares the incessant flow of our desires to the rivers which enters in to the ocean. But the ocean even though it is being filled but always still. This shows that a person who is like an ocean can alone achieve peace but not the person who strives to satisfy such desires entering to the heart.
Why is the Lord talking about the Ocean? Ocean is a material thing; it is just a vast body of water. So, what makes Krishna speak to Arjuna in the middle of the battle field and give this particular analogy. What is that one particular quality of the Ocean which is so relevant for us in this verse. For to understand better let’s see how deep is the Ocean.
How deep is the Ocean?
This is what the research says (The National Ocean services)
1)Enough water to fill a bathtub 685 x 685 miles
2)330 ft. is the well-lit zone.
3)831 ft.- deepest free-dive recorded in history (pressure is 26 times than at the surface)
4)2400 ft.- is the danger zone for modern attack nuclear submarines. Beyond this the hull implodes.
5)2700 ft.is where the tip of the tallest building -Burj Khalifa would reach
6)3280 ft. Sunlight can’t reach here (midnight zone)- most animals below this range can’t see.
7)9816 Ft.is the deepest any mammal has been recorded swimming ( Cuvier beaked whale)
8)12500 ft.- RMS Titanic- pressure is 378 times the surface.
9)20000 ft. is the Hadal zone- Area designated for Ocean’s deepest trenches.
10)29000 ft.- You can invert Mt. Everest into some of the deepest trenches of the ocean.
11)35797 Feet- In 1960 Oceanographer Jacques Piccard and Lt. Walsh descended to the lowest known point on earth Challenger deep
12)We have so far only explored 5-10% of the Earth’s oceans.
It is estimated that the rivers and streams flowing from the United States alone discharge 225 million tons of dissolved solids and 513 million tons of suspended sediment annually to the ocean. Throughout the world, rivers carry an estimated four billion tons of dissolved salts to the ocean annually.
So, if we connect these data back to the verse, Krishna is speaking that the desires entering to our heart are incessant .Automatically we will be curious to know what is the property of ocean that which is not easily disturbed. It is actually the depth of the ocean which can accommodate whatever comes in to it . Similarly, we also need to develop that spiritual depth. If we do not have spiritual depth, we won’t be able to practice what Krishna is speaking. Every small desire that enter our hearts , every small thing which someone tells us will disturb us, will agitate us. Sometimes it may be a small thing, but still that will easily make us suspectable to agitations and disturbances and we don’t want these things to affect our spiritual life.
The need for spiritual depth
1)Dormant conditionings :
We have conditioning. These conditioning are like deeply embedded in to our consciousness. And the funny thing is they don’t show up all the time. They are not there with us all the time. They pop up at the most unexpected times. When we start to become a devotee sometimes people experience this sudden change of consciousness. Example) they like to come to the temple and they feel the atmosphere so peaceful. It changes their consciousness for a moment suddenly. But the same person whey they get out of the temple they sometimes experience great anger, lust , greed ,envy or pride. And why is that happening. The understanding is once we enter the spiritual path our conditionings go dormant for some time. In the beginning when we keep chanting, we feel you are the servant, of the servant of Krishna. We spend our time in spiritual practices and sometimes we feel that our character has not changed a lot. May be some things would have changed in us but our days nature is still the same. Our conditionings have a tendency to disappear for sometime and when they come back, they are more vicious. And If we don’t have sufficient spiritual depth in our life, we will be so disturbed andbewildered .That is why we have to look at this verse in Bhagavad Gita 2.60.
yatato hy api kaunteyapuruṣasya vipaścitaḥindriyāṇi pramāthīniharanti prasabhaṁ manaḥ
Translation: The senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavoring to control them.
Our mind is like a camera it actually captures each movement we are going through. Once the experience is more intense those are the movements that remains strongly embedded in our mind and those are also called as samskaras. As we are going through our spiritual path and practices sometimes those images flash back. Our senses if they see something which has been captured inside then it simply gives a flash back then and there is a huge conflict within the mind what to do and what not to do and the senses started pulling and there is a great tug of war . If we are not strong in spiritual strength then we will be carried away. And this verse is specifically pointing out that. So, these dormant conditioning we need to aware of and be careful of and if you are not deep you will be carried away.
2)Strengthening the “Krishna connection”
We don’t want to avoid material desires and we cannot simply live our life in a negative tone. We want to experience the positive .HH Bakthi Tirtha Swami Maharaj says that we have this faith but if we don’t have true spiritual experiences, we cannot just survive in spiritual path just on the basis of faith. And to go from faith to spiritual experience we have to strengthen this Krishna connection by actually going deep in to our spiritual practices. In Bhagavad Gita:10.9 Krishna says
mac-cittā mad-gata-prāṇābodhayantaḥ parasparamkathayantaś ca māṁ nityaṁtuṣyanti ca ramanti ca
Translation: The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.
This particular verse is actually telling is that if we have to get to the final destination and want to achieve this state of consciousness, we need to cultivate spiritual depth. Actually, in the purport of this particular verse Srila Prabupada mentions a very interesting thing . He gives a brilliant example here. He says very fortunate souls receives the seeds of Bhakti. This devotional service is just like a seed, and if it is sown in the heart of a living entity, and if he goes on hearing and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, that seed fructifies, just as the seed of a tree fructifies with regular watering. The spiritual plant of devotional service gradually grows and grows until it penetrates the covering of the material universe and enters into the brahma-jyotir effulgence in the spiritual sky. In the spiritual sky also that plant grows more and more until it reaches the highest planet, which is called Goloka Vṛndāvana, the supreme planet of Kṛṣṇa. Ultimately, the plant takes shelter under the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and rests there. Gradually, as a plant grows fruits and flowers, that plant of devotional service also produces fruits, and the watering process in the form of chanting and hearing goes on. This plant of devotional service is fully described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā, Chapter Nineteen). It is explained there that when the complete plant takes shelter under the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, one becomes fully absorbed in love of God; then he cannot live even for a moment without being in contact with the Supreme Lord, just as a fish cannot live without water. In such a state, the devotee actually attains the transcendental qualities in contact with the Supreme Lord. So, we have to actually dive deep in to our devotional service then we can achieve this stage and for that we have to strengthen the Krishna connection. If we want to see the seed of our Bhakti grow higher, we have to go deeper in our spiritual strength. The deeper we go the higher the Bhakti Lata grows and actually enter the spiritual world.
3)The strength to tolerate the turbulence of this world
HH Radha Nath Swami Maharaj describes a particular incident that happened when he was actually looking for a true spiritual path. This is mentioned in his book journey home. He was sitting near the banks of a river on a very peaceful day and meditating and then he saw there was a hawk in the sky. It was hovering in the sky. Then he sees the hawk was slowly gliding downwards, deceasing his elevation and suddenly takes a plunge in to the water and came out holding a fish in its talons. The fish was struggling to come out of the hawk’s grip. Then he had a realization right then. This is what he says:
“similarly, if we go deeper in to our connection to God, we will find an inner reality so deep and so satisfying that it lifts the consciousness to a place where we could deal with the effects of unforeseeable fate with a stable, detached mind.”
The fish was swimming in the water just like a normal day , just happy having time with his family it did not least expect that hawk was coming . The hawk had locked his target. If only the fish was swimming a little deeper may be the hawk might not have reached it , and the lesson he took from that is this is such an important lesson, it is needed especially for us. The world is in a turbulent state today politically, geographically , economically and spiritually and it is so disturbing and overwhelming and if we need to be a stable spiritual practitioner, we need to cultivate spiritual depth. So, we get the strength to tolerate the turbulence by having spiritual depth
4)Strength to resist temptation.
Without spiritual depth it is not possible to resist temptations. One who does not have spiritual strength and spiritual vision it is easy to such to temptations. In BG 2.58 Krishna says
yadā saṁharate cāyaṁkūrmo ’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥindriyāṇīndriyārthebhyastasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
Translation: One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.
5)Greater strength to follow our convictions
When we come to spiritual life and when we become a devotee, we are given the principles of Bhakti which we need to follow. We have to follow these regulative principles to become a perfect human being first, then we follow the other principles of Bhakti like no meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling. Today these are really challenging to follow sometimes. We need greater strength to fulfill the vows we have taken. In BG 7.28 Krishna says:
yesam tv anta-gatam papam
bhajante mam drdha-vratah
Translation: One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.
Krishna says that persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination. That determination does not come if we don’t engage our sense this life. With some good fortune we have come in contact with devotee association. We don’t know what we have done in our previous life. What we have in our hand is this life. And if we can cultivate sufficient amount of spiritual depth then we will be strong enough to follow our convictions in challenging times.
What are we if we don’t put our time, energy to cultivate our spiritual life? In BG 3:6 Krishna says:
karmendriyāṇi saṁyamyaya āste manasā smaranindriyārthān vimūḍhātmāmithyācāraḥ sa ucyate
Translation: One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.
It is sometimes so hard for us to control our senses and sometimes we try to fake it and oscillate between hypocrisy and guilt. If we are not practicing spiritual principals then we are hypocrite and if we are committing same mistakes again and again by not cultivating spiritual depth, and our actions being just superficial and shallow our consciousness will constantly make us feel guilty. So, we have to stop oscillating between these two things. This is not what spiritual life. Spiritual life is progressive and is evolving in to a good experience as we go further and further. And in order to break this negative loop we have to cultivate spiritual depth otherwise we will be caught somewhere in this loop and it is so difficult to come out and we will be stuck there. That is why Srila Prabupada in all his books and in all his purports and verses stresses the importance of cultivating spiritual depth to elevate our consciousness.
Why don’t we progress much?
1)I’m okay. This is okay.
This is one thing which we tell to us all the time. Our spiritual life is on fire. But if we simply keep ignoring the fire and just sit there thinking I am ok then it will be gone soon. If our actions are not honest within ourself and if we don’t tell ourself there is something wrong we need to fix those things our spiritual life is gone and that is one of the reasons we don’t progress much in our spiritual life.
2)Kaliyuga-The age of spiritual laziness
The sages of Naimisharanyaforesaw that the people of this age are lazy in spiritual practices. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswathi Thakur had this short story BB MA.
Two lazy men
Two very lazy men lived jointly in a room. By chance, on one winter night the room somehow caught fire. As the fire was spreading, one of the lazy persons felt the heat on his back but didn’t care to get up. When the heat of the fire grew unbearable, the first lazy man didn’t even take the trouble to alert his room-mate. He just uttered two letters only, B-B , by which he meant to say, back burning!
The second lazy man was also similarly reluctant to respond with a fully expressed sentence and he only murmured, M-A , out of sheer laziness, meaning to advise his friend to move aside.
All this time the fire was getting bigger and bigger while the lazy men in their dreamful slumber thought that the night was over and that the sun was up, and that they were feeling the warmth of sunshine. With this dreaming conjecture, the first lazy man asked the second one without getting out from his bed, O brother, could you please check how hot the sun is?
The second lazy man thought, who wants to take so much trouble?
So, he replied, how can I open my eyes?
As they were lazily passing the time in this way, both of them were roasted in the blazing fire.
Moral of the Story
Those who pretend to be residents of the asrama for the sake of practicing service to Lord Sri Hari, but who became lazy in offering daily service to the Lord, the spiritual master, and the Vaishnavas, are also susceptible to be caught within the clutches of illusion and ultimately to meet with a similar end. The lifestyle of one who has devoted himself to the service of the Lord should never be at any time lazy.
If someone tell us something we are not in a state of acceptance, or to acknowledge that we are lacking something. HG Baladeva Prabhu in ISKCON, Chowpatty, Mumbai was mentioning in Japa seminar how to improve Japa . Early morning all devotee Brahmachari’s sit around to chant their Japa so a young Brahmachari devotee was doing his Japa. Sometime when you don’t have enough sleep at night and get up early and chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, we start to eat words. One devotee said the reason for our sleepiness while doing our Japa is the holy name is so sweet and what happens if you eat too much sweet you will feel drowsy. So, while the young devotee boy was chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, he was missing the words of Mahamantra and another elder Brahmachari devotee went and corrected him. So, the young devotee boy humbly accepted his mistakes. Later that day the elder Brahmachari thought he should not have corrected that devotee. It is not right on his part when he himself is not perfect. Then he himself went to another devotee and gave a device, a recorder and told him to record his chanting when he is not aware and give it to him and then a couple of days went by and that devotee gave the recording to him and when he heard himself chant, he was also missing some words. This is not denial but we are unaware that we are making this mistake. But when someone points that out to us, we should have so much courage to accept the fact that we are following short. To be in the denial in lacking spiritual consciousness is the greater obstacle in cultivating spiritual depth.
These alphabets represent set of principle if we focus on help in developing spiritual depth
To come out of denial leads to a desire, a genuine sincere desire to change. No one can make our spiritual life better even if we have the scriptures with us, it will sit as it is in the shelf. If there is no desire if Krishna is sitting in front of us also there will be no change. We need to cultivate that desire through association, through hearing , chanting and through that desire we can get spiritual depth.
Avoiding distractions with determination.
To avoid distraction, we need to have strong determination
Example Ajamila vs Haridas Tahkur
Both faced same situation but Ajamila succumbed to temptation but Haridar Thakur did not
Be driven if not motivated.
Motivation comes and goes. We get motivated by hearing lectures, and will improve our sadhana but sometimes we get distracted by other things in the material world. Motivation comes from the mind but the drive comes from intelligence. The Lord say subdue the mind with spiritual intelligence. Regardless of how motivated you are feeling , we should pick up our bead bag and chant and push against the resistance or temptations then only we will develop the spiritual strength.
Examples from scriptures, In the face of great tragedies focused on their spiritual life are as follows:
1)Prahlada Maharaj: His father abuses , tries to kill him by every means, but still motivated and was fixed in spiritual strength
2)Narada Muni: His mother passed away when he was a child and no one to take care of, no shelter but achieved greater spiritual strength
3)Srila Prabhupada: Came all the way to America to spread Krishna consciousness facing lots of struggles still did not give up.
4)If we depend on motivation, we will not achieve spiritual strength. We have to fixed in our intellect and with that drive be convinced to practice with desire avoiding distractions.
Seek enlightenment instead of Entertainment
Very important for this age when there are lots of entertainment channels like Netflix , HBO etc. We need to see Enlightment instead of Entertainment. Today’s people see Enlightment through Entertainment. But actually, we need to have Enlightment more and more. Why should we do that. We need to regulated in our activities in recreation. Once we seek more entertainment more than enlighten it is going to be difficult to pursue our spiritual life.
The Hidden perils of modern Entertainment are:
1)Eats away time, energy and money. Makes you sit there accomplishing nothing
2)Possibility of agitating the mind-more more passion, ignorance, violence develops in to lower modes.
3)Creating the wrong samskaras
Our mind is like a camera. It captures everything, and these samskaras are difficult to overcome, we have to get rid of that. The message that Entertainment industry catering to us is, Life is an ice cream enjoy before it melts. But for Devotees life is an ice-cream, we have to serve it before it melts
Another comparison is about the hotel vs the hospital world view where the person sees the world as a hospital seeks treatment, undergoes to lot of difficulties, pain, hardships but grateful at heart because he knows treatment is working, purification is happening and he is actually going to improve gradually. But the person coming to hotel expecting for some enjoyment sometimes end up in sheer disappointment and make some philosophical statements that world is absurd, that life has no meaning etc. These are the wrong samskaras actually coming to our heart. But if we see that the entertainment creators are more focused in life , in balancing a holistic life, practicing yoga whatever path of spirituality they believe in and try to balance their life and family compared to the consumers. When we cut out enlightment from our life then what remains is entertainment. It does not satisfy our heart but deviates our mind.
Empathy vs. Envy & Criticism.
Power of empathy is that sometimes in the beginning stage of our spiritual life it is difficult to follow regulative principles and if we try hard also sometimes we might break it and we will feel very much guilty about it, then it is best think is to share our problem with devotee who understands our problem and the one who never scolds you, chastise you for the mistakes done and guide you and be patient with you and create gratitude in your heart more than fear. That is the power of empathy when someone understands you, sit down with you, analyze what difficulties you are going through, the background where you are coming from , these can cause a transformation experience to a devotee who are facing challenges. But someone people judge, accuse people ,we don’t look at the intension, and it destroys their spiritual community
What does empathy do for us
1)Creates a family environment
2)Trust and faith in devotee community
3)Genuine loving relationship
4)Creates a safe space to share thoughts confidentially
Sometimes people feel isolated and they walk away from spiritual life. Our movement is a Sankirtan movement, where we sing, dance and chant the Holy name of the Lord together like how Caitanya Mahaprabhu did with his associates. In this age of kali, it is very difficult to progress in life without a strong spiritual community. The spiritual community can:
1)Impart desire to serve more.
2)Help in building up regular and strong practice (sadhana)
3)Help in putting Krishna come in first.
We have to Prioritize Krishna consciousness first thing in the day. That is the best medicine . If you keep Krishna conscious first then Krishna will keep you first. Majority of our progress comes from Sadhana only even though we have devotees blessing so we have never let our sadhana come down.
-Desire, avoid distractions with determination, drive
-Enlightenment Vs entertainment
–Empathy Vs envy & criticism
–Practice before you preach
–Put Krishna consciousness first